finance

Taxi drivers to protest outside Scottish Parliament



Taxi drivers will protest outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday against what they call a lack of support for the industry during the pandemic.

The Unite trade union will lead the demonstration – which has been described as “mobile” – at Holyrood.

The announcement comes as a survey of 200 taxi drivers found 30% were unable to access financial help during the pandemic while around 80% have lost up to three-quarters of their income due to the pandemic.

Drivers are pushing for the sector to be supported in the same way as other public transport operators, just a day after the Scottish Government announced an extra £29m for bus operators to keep them afloat until March 2021.

Last week, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP announced a one-off grant scheme and £19m fund to support drivers, but details are yet to be announced for the support.

Unite’s Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The mobile protest outside the Scottish Parliament is designed to raise awareness over the plight of taxi drivers across our nation.

“It’s estimated that there are around 36,000 tax drivers across Scotland, with the majority of them having dramatic cuts in their income with around a third having had access to no government support at all.

“We need urgent clarification and the release of the promised support from last week, and a commitment to continue to support the trade.”

Dozens of drivers are expected to turn out at the protest, between 11.30am and noon on Wednesday, according to the trade union.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We understand how difficult this pandemic has been for taxi drivers and their families, which is why on 9 December the Finance Secretary announced £19m of targeted support for taxi drivers through a one-off grant, which will be available from January.

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“We are currently considering further support for fixed costs pressures on self-employed taxi drivers and others and are actively taking steps to fill in the gaps in UK-wide schemes.

“This includes £15m for newly self-employed people who are not able to access other forms of financial support.

“In October we opened the Covid-19 Public Transport Mitigation Fund, offering £5m of funding to support installation of equipment that reduces the risk of coronavirus (Covid-19) transmission on public, community and school transport, including taxi and private hire operators.”



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